Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


HOUSE BY THE RIVER (1950). Director: Fritz Lang.

"You are a swine, Stephen."

Struggling writer Stephen Byrne (Louis Hayward) makes a pass at a pretty maid, Emily (Dorothy Patrick), and winds up accidentally killing her, then gets his lame, bookkeeper brother, John (Lee Bowman), to help him cover up the crime and put her body in the river beside his house. Meanwhile the mystery over the disappearing maid provides enough publicity for Stephen to capitalize on for his writing career, but his wife, Marjorie (Jane Wyatt), finds his new success a little ghoulish. Then Emily's body is found and one of the brothers is arrested .,.  With moody, beautiful photography from Edward Cronjager, a fine score by George Antheil, and a memorable lead performance by Hayward, House By the River is one of Lang's best pictures. Wyatt is quite good, Bowman also good [if not on Hayward's level], and we even get Ann Shoemaker as a friendly neighbor and Kathleen Freeman as a party guest. Jody Gilbert also scores as John's housekeeper, Flora. In the Lang canon, this falls somewhere between the awful Secret Beyond the Door ...  and the excellent Clash By Night.

Verdict: Brooding, well-done suspense film that just misses being a real classic. ***.

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